by Karin Sawetz,
(17 October 2014)
Folk and art exhibitions with references to beauty, fashion, identity and of being anonymous
Recently, I accompanied a friend to an informal meeting in Innsbruck. Innsbruck is the capital city of the federal state Tyrol in Austria. There are around 5 to 6 hours distance between Vienna and Innsbruck. While he was at the meeting, I visited the Volkskunstmuseum (translated: Folk and Art Museum) where traditional clothing from the region (like on view below, the traditional outfit of the 'Defereggerin', which means 'a woman from Defereggen valley'), accessories and old crafting methods (items like straw hats, process of making pillow lace and printing models with fabrics; pictures right) are permanently exhibited. The walk through the 'Trachten'-exhibition (Trachten is the German word for 'traditional costumes' that were and are used as festive clothing) starts with the scenery of a photo studio from the end of the 19th century (image below, left). At that times it was fashionable to present oneself dressed up in the regional 'Tracht' or to slip as urban citizen into the role of others such as appearing as Defereggerin with umbrella; well, this costume would be my choice.
Currently, the 'Museum of Tyrolean Regional Heritage' (like the Volkskunstmuseum in Innsbruck names itself in English) runs the special exhibition 'Behind the Mask' which focuses on two other aspects of the regional tradition: believe and magic. In Tyrol, religion and rites from former times co-exist. Especially the 'Fasnacht Bräuche' (carnival rites for celebrating the upcoming spring and awakening of nature by calling the good spirits and put spell on evil) are very famous. 'Behind the Mask' references not only the rites of carnival in Tyrol, it questions with the presentation of beauty rituals (room with dressing table, image second row below left) and interactive computers how identities can be taken on or covered outside of carnival in daily life.
The image below right shows me at the entrance of the 'Behind the Mask' exhibition where two computer screens with cameras were installed. The visitor's face is automatically covered by the computer program (face recognition) with one of nine masks which are typical for Tyrolean regions. On view on the image is the 'Tuxermaske' from the Mittleren Inntal, 19th century.
The exhibition 'Behind the Mask' is on view until 9 November 2014.